Monet’s Garden at Giverny, Normandy
Many people visiting Lower Normandy make a day trip to visit the artist Claude Monet’s house and garden at Giverny on the Seine, immortalised in a series of paintings. We’ve visited the gardens on a number of occasions – it’s about a two hour drive from where we live.
Giverny from Paris
If you’re staying in Paris then a short, 45-mile train ride from Paris St. Lazare station brings you to the town of Vernon, from where you can take a bus to Monet’s garden at nearby Giverny (about 2.5 miles, 4km). Alternatively, you can also hire push bikes near the train station.
Giverny and Artists
In the late 19th century a number of American artists – John Singer Sargent and Theodore Wendel among them – stayed and painted at Giverney. Examples of their work can be seen at the town’s “Musee d’Art Americain“.
Claude Monet noticed the village of Giverny while passing through on a train. He decided to move to Giverny where he rented a house and the land surrounding it. In 1890 he bought the house and land outright and set out to create the gardens he wanted to paint. Some of his most famous paintings, such as the water lily and Japanese bridge paintings, are of his garden in Giverny. His other most famous series of works is of the cathedral at Rouen, down river from Giverny. Monet lived in Giverny from 1883 until his death in 1926. He and many members of his family are buried in the village cemetery.
Giverny Hotel Baudy was one of the bars frequented by the artists in the late 19th century. Nowadays you can eat there but be warned – it is extremely popular! Book lunch in advance if you can, or get there early.
By mid-morning in summer Giverny is packed with tourist buses – try to visit early morning if you can, or late afternoon.
Monet’s House and Garden at Giverny
Monet’s house and garden are open from 1 April to 1 November. Hours are 9.30am to 6pm and admission is 6€ for adults, with reductions for children under 12, students and senior citizens.
You enter the gardens via turnstiles and the path leads you through Monet’s old studio, now a large, light and airy souvenir shop. There are dozens of books on Monet, the man and his works, postcards galore and beautiful reproduction prints to buy.
At the exit from the shop Monet’s house is ahead on the right (there are also toilets at theentrance). Photography is not allowed inside the house.
Monet’s House at Giverny
The outside of Monet’s house at Giverny is adorned with green shutters while the inside, like his paintings, is very colourful. One hallway is decorated in old Japanese prints, whilst his wife’s bedroom has bright green walls with sky-blue detailing. The living room is pale blue with wood panel detailing in bright peacock blue. The works of Monet and his artist friends cover the walls.
The dining room is dazzlingly bright, with tables, chairs and walls painted in vibrant yellows. Two enormous china cabinets dominate the room, decorated with blue and white pottery.
The kitchen next door is plastered floor to ceiling with blue and white tiles and overflows with copper and brass pots and pans.
Monet’s Garden at Giverny
There are actually two parts to Monet’s garden: a flower garden called Clos Normand in front of the house and a Japanese inspired Water Garden on the other side of the road, accessed by a pedestrian tunnel from the bottom of the Clos Normand garden.
The Clos Normand is ablaze with colour in summer, with masses of tulips, roses, dahlias, sunflowers, nasturtiums and other annual flowers according to the season. Monet created his garden with an eye for how it would appear on canvas, and the present day custodians remain faithful to that vision.
Monet’s Japanese Garden – Water Lilies and Ponds
Monet was inspired by his Japanese prints to create the water garden and Japanese bridge. The famous ponds are dotted with water lilies (in season) and surrounded by willows, wisterias and towering bamboos.
The Japanese bridge is painted the same bright green as the house shutters.